Growing Older: Reader Essay by Kay Putnam Noguchi

From Minnesota Alumni Magazine Winter 2017

W2017_GrowingOlderKayPutnamNoguchi_Inline300 Although we didn’t plan it that way, my husband and I don’t have children. We have been through all the stages of parenting and grandparenting through friends and family, and recognize that these relationships provide meaning, structure, and joy.

We both had fulfilling careers, me as a librarian and my husband as a nurse anesthetist. Since we didn’t have to save for college or weddings, we were able to retire a bit early—me at 63, and my husband a year later at 58.

Those of us without children often committed a lot of time to our parents. We happily shared years of vitality and enthusiasm with our parents well into their advanced ages. We saw firsthand the end-of-life challenges, especially for my mother who died at 94, six years after her Alzheimer’s diagnosis, and my mother-in-law, who spent her last nine years in convalescent care. We ask each other, “Who will take care of us?” knowing how much we did for our parents.

We are at one of the happiest times of our lives but, with longevity on both sides, we know we have to face the future both with optimism and realism. And we need to figure out who will take care of us.

- Kay Putnam Noguchi (B.A. ’68, M.A. ’77), San Rafael, California

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